More than 2,000 cities light up against the death penalty

The Rome-based community of Sant’Egidio is organizing its annual international campaign “Cities for Life Day” to raise awareness of the death penalty. Four American cities will join the initiative.

By Lisa Zengarini

On November 30, 2,446 cities around the world will join “Cities for life day”, the annual campaign against the death penalty organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Italian lay Catholic association dedicated to the provision of social and to arbitration of disputes.

Four American cities join

On that day, leaving from the Coliseum in Rome, they will all light a symbolic monument and organize events to raise public awareness of the death penalty and the right to life. Cities in countries where the death penalty is still practiced, including Berkeley (CA), Boston (MA), Carrboro (NC), West Hollywood (CA).

November 30, 1786, a historic date

The date chosen for this annual event is of particular importance: on this day, in 1786, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany becomes the first state in Europe and the world to prohibit torture and capital punishment, following the publication of Cesare Beccaria’s masterpiece “Crimes and Punishments” in 1764. In the brochure, the famous Italian writer of the Enlightenment presented some of the first modern arguments against the death penalty, which since the eighteenth century has been gradually abolished in many countries around the world.

First campaign launched in 2002

Although most countries have abolished the death penalty today, more than 50% of the world’s population live in countries where the death penalty is maintained, such as China, India, parts of the United States, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iranian.

This is why the Community of Sant’Egidio launched the “Cities for Life” global initiative in 2002, in collaboration with Amnesty International and other organizations, including the International Federation for Action by Christians for the Abolition of torture (FIACAT). 80 cities have joined and have grown steadily since.

Growing consensus

At a press conference in Rome on Friday, the coordinator of the international campaign, Mario Marazziti de Sant’Egidio, noted that over the past four decades, the trend has continued to change: “In 1977, there were only 16 abolitionist countries ”and since then“ 133 countries have abolished the death penalty or have a moratorium and have not carried out executions for at least 10 years, ”Marazziti said. He also noted that the United States is also following this positive trend, although it has been tarnished by the 13 federal executions carried out in the past six months under the Trump administration.

Webinar with Sister Helen Prejean

Events in Rome for “Cities for Life Day” include a webinar titled “No Lifeless Justice – For a World Without the Death Penalty, in which the President of the European Parliament, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2011 Tawakull Karman and American activist Sister Helen Préjean will participate.

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